Youthful Timberwolves have their coming-out party in west over GSW

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 9:45 PM

"I look the Timberwolves on TV and .. click."Maybe it'south time to modify the channel again. O'Neal was among the many watching Tuesday night when the youthful Timberwolves stunned the history-chasing Golden State Warriors at residence with a 124-117 overtime win.

Youthful Timberwolves have their coming-out party in west over GSW

Shaquille O'Neal was holding Ct at a press event during All-Star weekend, offering his analysis and opinions about all things NBA, when he was asked about Karl-Anthony Towns, the excellent rookie of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Don't nobody look Minnesota," O'Neal bellowed with a playfully dismissive chuckle, reaching for an imaginary remote control. "I look the Timberwolves on TV and ... click."

Maybe it'south time to modify the channel again. O'Neal was among the many watching Tuesday night when the youthful Timberwolves stunned the history-chasing Golden State Warriors at residence with a 124-117 overtime win.

The performance took a message the Timberwolves have been saying locally for two months — that a downtrodden franchise is turning the corner on the backs of the best compilation of youthful talent in the league — and blared it through the megaphone of a nationally televised triumph over the defending champions that dealt a blow to Golden State'south pursuit of the NBA'south single-season wins record.

"Like I told our guys before the game, very few opportunities do you obtain the chance, when you're not a playoff team, to do something special," Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "And I thought tonight, against this team, with this crowd in this arena, just pleased of our guys."

It was just the sixth national TV game of the season for Minnesota, one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. Playing in a tiny market and wearing a title on their chests that's been synonymous with failure for more than a decade, it was simple to look why so many have been unhurried to notice what is building.

In Andrew Wiggins and Towns, the Wolves have the latest two No. one overall draft picks, both of whom have shown signs of being able to carry a franchise. They also have second-year guard Zach LaVine, who's won two straight smack dunk titles and solidified himself as a starting-caliber shooting guard in his second season.

Point guard Ricky Rubio is playing the best basketball of his five-year career and Gorgui Dieng has blossomed alongside Towns in the frontcourt.

"The talent they've is foundational," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in March when Golden State escaped MN with a five-point win. "Sometimes you've some good, youthful players you can't figure out what you're going to do with them all. With this group, the pieces fit. Hold them together, let them grow."

The Wolves have four players twenty-one or younger — Wiggins (20.8 points per game), Towns (eighteen.2), LaVine (13.9) and Tyus Jones (4.2) — accounting for 54.4 points and 101.1 minutes per game. Those numbers dwarf any other grouping of similarly aged players on one team in NBA history and there have certainly been growing pains.

The Wolves went through a miserable stretch from late December into mid-January, losing fourteen of fifteen games as they struggled to balance youthful energy and inexperience while also playing veterans love Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Martin.

At the All-Star break, the Wolves turned the team over to the pups. The new starting lineup of Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins, Towns and Dieng is 10-13.

The grouping has struggled mightily on defense, and there has been inconsistency while they memorise how to play together. But there are also nights love Tuesday in Oakland, when Wiggins, Towns and Shabazz Muhammad helped MN outscore Golden State 52-33 over the final 18 minutes of the game and click the Warriors' 114-game win streak when they held a lead of fifteen points or more.

There is still a lot of work to be done. The bench needs serious help, owner Glen Taylor has to determine on Mitchell'south future and the youthful players have to figure out how to play consistently. The league'south longest-running playoff drought will reach twelve years this season.

But the core is in place. That much was clear on Tuesday night.

"It means a lot to us," Wiggins said. "It'south a process. It'south not just one game for us. This game is leading into the future, leads into all the games following year. It'south a large game for us because they didn't lay down. They were up fifteen, they were up seventeen, and we kept fighting. They're playing for history and we're just trying to obtain in the way of it."

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